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Code Talker Billison honored

FORT LEE, Va. - Dr. Samuel Billison sat under the dancers' tent Nov. 22 during an honor pow wow held on the U.S. Army post here.

He had little time to himself since Indians and non-Indians alike made their way to the tent to see the retired U.S. Marine who served during World War II as one of several Navajo code talkers. It was Billison's and the other code talker's use of the Navajo language to transmit orders that enabled the marines to defeat the Japanese at Iwo Jima.

A guest speaker at Fort Lee, which is situated between Petersburg and Hopewell, Va., Billison spoke earlier during the celebration at Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center as part of the military's Native American Veteran's Month.

"God bless America," he told the crowd at the pow wow.

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Billison, also an educator at the University of Arizona, reminded the audience of how fortunate the people in the United States are to have the freedoms they have.

As a guest at the pow wow among Indians from various area tribes, Billison thanked everyone for welcoming him, and he said it was honorable that they continue to celebrate their heritage.

"Keep celebrating your culture," he said.

Billison lives on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona.